Patience is a network effect | Rough Type

Patience is a network effect | Rough Type.


If you want to see how technology shapes the way we perceive the world, just look at the way our experience of time has changed as network speeds have increased. Back in 2006, a famous study of onl…


This might as well be a whack upside the head for teachers.  As our students become more connected (meaning fast connections) the less patient they become online– as in”less that the blink of an eye” wait time impatient.  If this translates to the analog, ‘meatspace’ world (and I suspect it might), then what does it mean for gathering attention in the classroom?

We need to be studying student attention in the classroom where there is unrestricted wireless and device access like my own university one.

Here is Nicholas Carr’s take (and it honestly makes me think that everything I do in my teaching is wrong:

“One thing this study doesn’t tell us — but I would hypothesize as true (based on what I see in myself as well as others) — is that the loss of patience persists even when we’re not online. In other words, digital technologies are training us to be more conscious of and more resistant to delays of all sorts — and perhaps more intolerant of moments of time that pass without the arrival of new stimuli. Because our experience of time is so important to our experience of life, it strikes me that these kinds of technology-induced changes in our perception of delays can have particularly broad consequences.”

Gotta love that oxymoronic understatement–”particularly broad consequences”.


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One thought on “Patience is a network effect | Rough Type

  1. Jane Fife

    I agree that the implications Carr suggests for our decreasing patience in the world is particularly troubling for teachers. I sense in my students the expectation that everything happen quickly and involve glitzy stimuli; generally I’ve noticed that it’s harder to involve students in discussions of texts if they involve no visuals, and that they have much shorter attention span or “patience” for these discussions.

    When you think about the decreased patience we have waiting for a video to start or website to load (with the assumption that it will have a lot of visual or interactive stimuli), think what that means for the patience we have culturally to interact with print texts. Carr suggested that we do have less patience for longer texts and engaging with them deeply in his Atlantic article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” and then in The Shallows. The emergence of flash fiction backs up the idea that our attention spans for print are shortening. Poe argued that the impact of a piece of fiction would be greater if it were short enough to be read in one sitting, but think about how the time in one “sitting” gets chopped up by clicks. How long is one “sitting” now between “clickings”?


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